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Teach Astronomy - Early Roman Calendar

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Uploaded on Jul 5, 2010

http://www.teachastronomy.com/
When you think of the calendar that we use every day some questions arise.  Why do you have to count on your knuckles or remember a rhyme to figure out how many days there are in a month?  Why does the year start in January as opposed to any other time? Why is December named after the Latin word for "ten" when in fact it is the twelfth month?  To answer these and other questions about the quirks in our calendar we have to go back to the early Romans.  The calendar we use is based on a Roman calendar.  The first Roman calendar was far inferior to the Babylonian calendar several thousand years previously.  It was very inaccurate; the Roman calendar started sometime in March when the Romans felt that the snow had melted enough in the Alps to send their legions off into the other countries around them.  This calendar started in March and had ten months of unequal length and was a poor approximation to the Solar year.  Eventually they added two months to the front end so that it started near the Winter Solstice.  The names of the months were partly numbers for the latter part of the year and named after their gods for the first part of the year.  And so, we have January after Janus, the god of doorways and beginnings, February after Februa, the god of purification, March after Mars, the god of war, April after Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, May after Maya, an ancient fertility god, and June after Juno, the goddess of women.  Many of the practices we still follow today originated with the Roman calendar about 2000 years ago.

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